What does a lawn aerator do, anyway?
Lawn aeration is one of the most important lawn care practices, but many homeowners dismiss the idea of aeration due to confusion surrounding the process. Aeration may seem intimidating, but by researching the practice and collecting the right tools it’s actually a very simple process that can have a very positive impact on your lawn’s overall health. Familiarize yourself with the most common types of lawn aerators, once you find the one that works best for your situation you’ll be well on your way to a lawn that has healthy air and water flow.
What is aeration?
Aeration is the process of removing plugs of soil from your lawn to allow for increased flow or air and water throughout your soil. There are many ways of achieving this, most involving a tool known as a lawn aerator. These devices feature hollow spikes that revolve across your soil, removing plugs as they go. Lower-cost versions of this tool do not remove soil plugs, and instead just pack them further into the ground. This variety of lawn aerator give similar effects, but a tool that actually removes the soil is preferred.
There are many benefits to aeration. They include:
Increased air flow
Better water absorption
Stronger grass roots
Additional heat and drought tolerance
Reduced soil compaction
It won’t take long after aerating for you to start noticing the improvements in your lawn. When performed correctly and at the right time the effects of aeration are extremely noticeable. If done improperly, however, there could be negative results. If you fear that aeration is outside of your skill set you may want to look into professional lawn care companies that can provide this service for you.
Types of lawn aerators
There are many types of lawn aerators available, but they fall into two categories: Powered and manual. Other differences lie mostly in spiked vs core machines, core aeration is usually preferred but spiked versions are beneficial to certain types of soil. Look into the type of soil found in your lawn before making a decision.
Manual aerators vary greatly. Some tools are as simple a pitchfork, simply align the spikes with the soil and then push down on the base of them using your foot. Aeration shoes simply this process by allowing you to strap spikes to the bottom of your shoes and aerate as you walk across your lawn. Other types of aerators incorporate spikes on to a rotating bar. As you push these across your yard the spikes will revolve, allowing you to work much faster than with forks or aeration shoes.
Powered aerators work much like a lawn mower. They are powered by gasoline or electricity, and as you push them across your lawn spikes will rotate into the soil. These machines are very heavy and expensive, it is rare to see these outside of agricultural environments. Thankfully, they can be rented at most hardware rental stores.
When to aerate
The best time to aerate your lawn depends on the type of grass that has been planted in your yard. Ideally, you want to aerate your lawn when you fertilize in order to see the best results from both treatments. This allows the fertilizer to absorb into your lawn faster, and helps it reach the root zones in your soil. If aerating without fertilizing you’ll want to choose either fall or spring for cool season grasses and summer for warm season varieties. You can aerate earlier than summer for warm season grasses, but make sure not to aerate until after you have cut the grass for the first time of the season.